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Retail gasoline prices showing some stability

National survey said annual average should be about $1.89 per gallon.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Retail gasoline prices showing some stability
U.S. retail gasoline prices holding relatively stable as spike in crude oil prices balances against increase in refinery utilization rates and inventories, motor club AAA says. File photo by Eduardo Sverdlin/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, April 12 (UPI) -- A high level of supplies on the U.S. market helped push retail gasoline prices lower despite a rally in crude oil prices, motor club AAA reported.

AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.05 per gallon, a slight increase from Monday, but relatively equal to the price reported one week ago.

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The motor club reported retail gas prices have been on the rise for the better part of five weeks, increasing for 28 of the last 35 days. Prices at the pump are higher by 13 cents on average compared with one month ago. That trend mirrors global crude oil prices, which are holding steady above $40 per barrel for the first time this year.

Refineries have recently started the preparations necessary to make a summer blend of gasoline, which because of additional environmental safeguards is more expensive to produce. That usually leads to a spike in retail prices as supplies fluctuate during the seasonal maintenance period.

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AAA said prices should continue to move higher for consumers as summer blends are slow to make their way to regional terminals. Refineries, meanwhile, are increasing their output rates and, as a result, federal data from last week show an increase in domestic gasoline inventories.

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"Just in time for the beginning of the summer driving season, additional supply is also expected to enter the market following the restart of Exxon Mobil's Torrance, Calif. refinery and the gasoline market is poised to be well supplied as we enter the busy summer driving season," the motor club said in a weekly retail market report. "Barring any major disruptions or shortages in supply, the above factors may keep pump prices relatively steady in the coming weeks."

A March report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecast a 2016 average price per gallon at $1.89 for 2016, which would be the lowest average annual price in 12 years.

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Mississippi had the lowest state average price in the nation Tuesday at $1.84 per gallon.

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